A friend from PR writes . . .
I have a favor to ask. Please don’t ask me to confirm or comment on news about Puerto Rico these days. Especially from the people at Univision.
We all know that news focuses on the sensational, but the descriptions of Destruction and violence, while accurate for their specific instances, should not be taken as an indication of what’s happening widely.
There have been robberies. There have been people who died. There have been homes that were actually destroyed. But this is not what has happened to all of us.
We’re not, yet, murdering each other for a loaf of bread or tank of gas. There’s still a lot of laughter in lines, and there are still people helping each other left and right, from family, to neighbors, and even strangers.
The guy offering to let xxx and I use the shower when we didn’t have water. The people buying two dozen eggs and giving one to their neighbor, who wanted three for her family. The people walking through the lines giving everyone updates on when the gas might start flowing. The civilians directing traffic in the first couple of days after the storm. The people who post pictures and names of strangers on Facebook so that those people’s families can know that their loved ones are well.
And the laughter. It continues to echo throughout our endless lines. With people running out of cash, there are now huge lines at the few banks that are open to get money. You then take that money and go wait in line for gas, or food, or , God help you, if you need to buy ice or water.
As we were sitting downstairs last night, sharing stories and food with a young couple from my building, who had been heating food by candlelight-and yes I did mean heating not eating, the woman described this as an exercise in patience.
Moving here helped me find that patient, calm kid I once was again. But I’m really starting to lose my patience with sensationalist stories that put this, my adopted homeland, in a negative light.
The situation is bad. Our electrical infrastructure is destroyed. It will take a lot of time, money, and help, for Puerto Rico to return to what it was a week ago. Getting basic necessities takes effort these days.
Our sense of community continues to be strong. And I have to tell you, no other place I’ve ever been defines community as an entire country as much as Puerto Rico does.
There is a pride in being Puerto Rican, that you hear in half of the songs, in conversations all of the time, that you see everywhere you go.
So, while life here is anything but a party these days, please do not let the news tell you that our society has disintegrated in the chaos.
If anything, most of us are behaving as our better angels.